The Welsh Championship 25

It sounds slightly more glamourous than it actually was. Today I trekked to Wales for their 25 mile championship event. In truth, it wasn’t that different to any other event on the R25, it’s a course that attracts the strongest, fastest and scariest riders in the principality, and from over the border.

It was my first run at the Glynneath bank this year. I try to head over there a few times a year because there is always the tantalising promise of at least a personal best, and possibly a 30mph ride. For a slower rider like me it’s subject to the vagaries and whims of the weather, and especially the wind direction. Today wasn’t too bad, a headwind out and tailwind back is the preferred option. It was a bit too windy so I bore this in mind and moderated my ambitions. I wanted to beat my old PB and come in under 52 minutes. If i got close to 50 minutes then that would be a bonus. I was riding blind, entirely on feel. I couldn’t find my garmin this morning. I used my wristwatch instead to get a sense of where I was. This ended up being a little bit confusing, i kept thinking i was off on a 10, when I was a 1, which skewed my calculations. I realised eventually. I also recognised belatedly that i shouldn’t go by the ‘real time’, because my watch is set to ‘work time’, which is very different to ‘garmin time’. I turned it off after about 15 miles.

There were some luminaries on the startline, including Andy Wilkinson. 25 miles is a bit on the short side for Andy who has ridden 547 miles in 24 hours and done the End to End on a recumbent thingy in 41 hours. He also managed a paltry 317 miles for the 12 hour. That’s 20mph for 875 miles, 23mph for 24 hours and a ridiculous 26.5mph for 12 hours. He proved today that he can also ride 25 miles at 31mph. He is unquestionably one of the legendary figures of time trialling in the UK.

Andy en route to the 12 hour record

I felt quite good, held a reasonable speed going out and chased it hard coming back. I managed a 51.36, which is a minute or so down on my best time, but still works out at a 29mph ride. I think there is a 30mph ride in there somewhere, but I’m more reliant on the conditions than some of the other super strong men. Jeff Jones won the race with a mid 48, with Wilkinson second. I’m not sure what position i managed; perhaps grazing the outside of the top ten.

It was nice to be racing in vaguely mild temperatures, without knee warmers or arm warmers. I used my new disc wheel which i got second hand from Mike at Strada. It came with some interesting new decals so I left these on. The bearings on the new wheel are smoother than the proverbial codpiece made of cashmere and it was a psychosomatic dream.

i love hooters: matches the colourway so had to stay.

Allen Janes came along for the day out and did a bit of riding around Rhigos whilst me and Danny got to grips with the fast tarmac. We talked racing and club things on the journey over and Allen came up with some startling statistics: he has ridden over 1300 open time trials. This includes nearly 800 25 mile races. He has calculated that his average speed for the 800 is 24 miles per hour.

Allen pauses for a moment to contemplate every minute of every single time trial, all 1300 of them.
Allen with his dad Ernie in the late 1950s.

It’s always grand to catch up with Allen.

Winter Miles

after the briefest of lay-offs, i’ve started riding more regularly again, insofar as i commuted last week with quite a few longer loops thrown in, and have just had a big(ish) weekend on the fixed wheel. in fact, i haven’t ridden gears now for over two weeks. it’s paradoxically liberating.

yesterday i rode out around the mendips, choosing the shallower climbs over the visceral legbreakers. Ed, Kieran and two others came along. Ed was suffering, but his newly eyeletted bob jackson looked positively old school. we did a steady 45 miles. today i went out on the club run, it was mostly flattish, no savage climbs to break things apart. there were about 25 riders, which is a considerable number on the road. one rider on some sort of titanium sportive bike kept attacking on any incline, or generally anywhere. the general consensus was that he had earnt the dubious sobriquet of  ‘king of the club run’.

i was hanging out with Jeff Jones and a few other local luminaries, the likes of Rob Gough and Colin Parry last night. It was a sort of end of season time trial, except with the cycling bit replaced by drinking, and time/mileage switched with volume. I told Jeff that this winter i would be keeping the mileage up and losing the intensity, apart from the odd harder session – and the natural benefit of riding fixed up and down the escarpments. He felt this was a good thing: keep the base there and when it’s time to race again, start layering the intensive stuff on top; that way you retain the fitness and then create the form. it’s simple really. my other plan is not leave myself as much to do. last year i stayed off the bike until immediately before christmas, then tried to build up again but was well and truly thwarted by the ice storm and severe cold. i shall try to avoid this.

here are some pics from the past two days of riding around the countryside:

The crest of Burrington Combe with Kieran and Ed
Ed looks for form
newly eyeletted path action from argos
today's choice of cake: coffee and walnut
Cake for the captain

Allen Janes was out on the club run today. he is one of the older riders in the club, still riding into his 60s, who held the club 30 record in 1980, and still holds the club 100 mile team record with Chris Holloway and Rod Collins, set at the National in 1983. when i first saw him on the club run he was riding a really lovely 531 Viking frame, but it looked too big for him. i didn’t want to say anything, but it came up in conversation a bit later on, and he said ‘my dad bought it for me in 1958 and he said i’d grow into it, but i never did.’ so i guess he carried on riding it. Allen was on an altogether racier bike today, an alloy Nelson with a custom paint job from Argos, sort of in the style of a Concorde, with a picture of a Bristol Box Kite and the word ‘Challenger’ on the top tube because it has his name (allen) within the word. it was classy. he is a legend. apparently he’s going to be doing more racing next year, including the hardriders. fair play, he managed a 1.00 for a 25 this season. Allen also has one of the earliest low-pros to make it into the country, a fantastic crown-mounted Argos special. he rode it this season. i haven’t got a picture of this machine, but here is a similar example:

they look quite scary, but are effective.

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